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Review – Indie Game: The Movie

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Last Thursday I had the opportunity to view a screening of Indie Game: The Movie followed by an all-too-brief Q&A with the film makers themselves. Here are my thoughts on the film.

Independent games have been taking the industry by storm. They are a breath of fresh air, and with Kickstarter getting headlines and fan funded projects abounding, this documentary couldn’t be a more topical film.

The movie follows three developers (Edmun McMillen and Tommy Refenes of Super Meat Boy and Phil Fish of FEZ) as they grapple with the nature of creation and tackle their own fears and insecurities. Through interviews with the developers as well as with other voices and talking heads in the game world, the documentary weaves a narrative that takes you on an emotional roller coaster right along with the developers.

If you’ve played either Super Meat Boy or FEZ, you know how the stories end, but that doesn’t stop the story from being fascinating. The film is at all times unique and honest, and its sincerity is perhaps one of the best qualities. The developers never try to save face for the camera which connects the audience on a deeper level to their struggles. We can see their insecurities whether they are well founded or not.

The developers are predictably scared of failing. There is also the very real, and rather surprising fear of succeeding. What happens when the developers finish the games they have been working on for the past three years? Where do they go from there?

In many ways the documentary is a universal story of creation and achieving your dreams. What do you do when you get what you want? How do you cope with sending a raw form expression out to the real world to be judged? What do you do when, as is the case with Jonathan Blow (creator of Braid), you feel that despite positive reviews no one understood your game as you had hoped they would?

These are questions any creator must answer, and that makes Indie Game: The Movie immediately accessible. It’s a fantastic film to see. It speaks both to gamers and non-gamers, because it illuminates the struggles of any sort of independent artist. It tells very human stories many of us have had to face.

Indie Game: The Movie has not yet seen a wide theatrical release. If you are lucky enough to have a screening near you, however, I would highly recommend attending. The movie is also expected to be sold as a DVD in the coming months, though no release date has been announced.

Full Discolsure: No one asked me to write this review, nor even gave me a free ticket. I just loved the movie.

About Stephen Crane

Stephen was hooked by the NES at a very young age and never looked back. He games on a daily basis and is currently trying to climb his way up the ranked ladder on League of Legends! Outside of the video game world he actually likes running and owns a rapidly growing collection of toed shoes. Stephen Crane is the owner of Armed Gamer.

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